Recently Attorney General Jerry Brown was in San Diego addressing grassroots Democrats, he talked about the upcoming race for governor of California and said tongue in cheek, and we are paraphrasing, that any one who runs for the office must have a political death wish, have no future political aspirations. The next governor of California is going to have to deal with some real problems and have to make un-popular and tough decisions.
Brown was not exactly being prophetic, but simply painting a realistic picture of the California’s future. The picture of California’s future became a little clearer this week.
According to a report released this week by the Legislative Analyst Office – the non-partisan agency that reviews and monitors budget issues for the Legislature – California’s budget shortfall is projected to swell to $21 billion by June 30, 2011, the end of the 2010-2011 State Budget year.
Adding to the bad news, the report also projects continued budget shortfalls of billions of dollars for the next several years especially when federal stimulus dollars and revenues from the temporary tax increases end.
What all this means is that this year’s budget wrangling that dragged on well beyond mandated deadlines, causing IOUs to be issued for only the second time since the Great Depression, did little for the future of California. This year’s fiscal budget was passed, based heavily on borrowing, fiscal tricks, overly optimistic projections, and stimulus funding. Lawmakers cut billions from education, healthcare and social services while temporarily hiking income, sales and vehicle taxes. And despite future economic growth the outlook is bleak at best.
While prison spending continues to grow due to an inability to cut spending, there will be serve cuts made to social services. We are already seeing education cost rising with UC students dealing with a staggering 32% fee hike, community colleges eliminating courses, and K-12 class sizes increasing.
For the Hispanic community the future means having to survive on fewer services and opportunities, as social service cuts disproportionately affect minority communities. This impact is felt greatest in education.
With future budget cuts looming, K-12 class size reduction initiatives may be abandoned for larger class sizes. Community colleges which have been the gateway to higher education will be offering fewer core courses, and the cost of attending four year universities will be too expensive for our best and brightest young students to continue on with their education. A whole generation of young students will suffer the consequences of the California budget crisis.
Once again while the local communities and cities suffer, the Democrat and Republican legislatures will once again fight the age old problem of increasing tax revenue versus more and deeper budget cuts.
The state legislature procrastinated on their budget plan for this fiscal year – missing the State Constitutional deadline – and eventually ending up with a budget that was slapped together. The budget was so flawed that it required the Governor to call a special session to come up with a better plan. This year we urge the Governor to call for an early special session and begin the laborious process of pounding out a budget, instead of waiting for the legislature which has shown a history of delaying the difficult decisions.